CLEVELAND - The Indians went back to work on Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field with high hopes of building on the first half of the season and making a run to the playoffs in October.
The Indians start the second half of the year trailing the first place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central Division by just three games.
The Tribe starts the second half of the season with a 44-41 record. But the Indians will play their Central Division foes 40 times before the season ends, including 12 games against the Tigers, who trail the Indians by one half game, and 6 games against the White Sox, including a three-game series at the end of the season in October at Progressive Field that could very well decide the division. The Indians also remain in the hunt for the wildcard sitting just one game off the pace.
Last season, the Tribe struggled after the All-Star break, posting a winning record in just one of the final months of the season. The team expects to be busy on the trade front, but most of the players in the team’s clubhouse, as well as General Manager Chris Antonetti, feel they can make the post season with the team they have right now.
Manager Manny Acta is confident last year’s experience will help the club this year.
"I think, last year was a great experience for them and I think having a couple of the veterans here like (Derek) Lowe and (Johnny) Damon who have been thru that kind of stuff is going to help some of the guys.”
"There's some good teams out there, if Chicago keeps playing the way they are obviously it’s going to be tough, but you know what, we have something to say about it,” Damon said.
A lot of things have to happen if that is the case. The team’s offense has struggled, but finished the first half of the season very well. The starting pitching was the team’s strength in April and early May but also struggled through most of June and into July.
The Indians know they have to come out of the gate strong to begin the second half and post winning months in July and August, and set themselves up for a run in September, where the division was decided last year when Detroit went 20-6 on the month and pulled away. September has always been the key month because the schedule is all about your own division.
Jason Kipnis came up late last year, but knows the next few months are crucial.
"It's going to come down to the end, I think that's the way all the teams feel, right now Chicago and Detroit are playing good baseball so we have to stay a float with them and kind of hang in there while they make their runs so we can make ours,” Kipnis said.
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